Why ESPN Believes Bruins-Maple Leafs Is Most Compelling First-Round Series

Boston Bruins fans and Toronto Maple Leafs diehards aren’t the only ones looking forward to the two teams’ first-round playoff matchup.

The Atlantic Division rivals will kick off their best-of-seven series Thursday night at TD Garden. And, according to ESPN, the series is the most compelling of all the first-round quarrels in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Boston vs. Toronto got the top spot in ESPN’s “hype rankings” with a cumulative score of 57, placing them just ahead of the Los Angles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights’ first-round series, which scored a 54.

Here’s “The Mothership’s” rationale:

“There’s just no getting around the fact that 2013 happened, even if the Toronto Maple Leafs are a remarkably different team than the one that blew a 4-1 lead, including two goals in 31 seconds, before losing in overtime of Game 7. You add that to the Bruins playing like a potential Cup winner and the Leafs seeking to break their decades-long drought.

“You sprinkle in some expected Brad Marchand line-crossing. Add a dash of Auston Matthews vs. Patrice Bergeron, and the extension of this season’s Zdeno Chara lovefest into the playoffs. It’s a shame that these teams have to meet in the first round due to the inequities of the NHL playoff format — in the 1-through-8 format, this would have been Boston vs. Philly — but at least when it comes to the Hype Ranking, it’s produced the most compelling matchup of the first round.”

Bruins, fans, of course, likely hope the series is anything but compelling and ends in an easy four-game sweep. And Leafs fans, still bitter over what took place during the 2013 playoffs, surely feel the same.

Only one team can win, however, and we have a pretty good idea of who it will be.

Why Bruins ultimately will beat Maple Leafs in first-round series > >

Thumbnail photo via Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images

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